The July 24 edition of the New York Observer featured an editorial praising Speaker Christine Quinn for resisting pressure from proponents of legislation calling on employers to provide a minimum number of paid sick days for employees. Unfortunately, the editorial misses the point on the question of leadership.
Far from standing up to special interests, as the Observer unconvincingly argues, what the Speaker is really exercising is her considerable power to circumvent the democratic process. By preventing a vote on a bill supported by 3 out of 4 New Yorkers and a veto-proof majority of her fellow Council Members, the Speaker is unabashedly standing with the business interests who oppose this legislation.
Measures to ensure workers can afford to take a few sick days without sacrificing their pay or their jobs, as well as modest increases in the minimum wage, increase job stability and earnings, enabling tens of thousands of New Yorkers to buy their groceries, pay the rent, and support local small businesses.
By the way, the Observer’s charge that proponents of paid sick days offered “anecdotes” rather than facts to support the legislation is absurd. To be sure, the arguments made by proponents of paid sick days are supported by a wealth of data, research and analysis. At a recent policy discussion hosted by the Community Service Society, economists Arindrajit Dube of U Mass and Paul Osterman of MIT laid out the case for establishing paid sick days based on research showing the benefits of such policies clearly outweigh the costs, which are modest at best. Moreover, San Francisco and Connecticut, which already have paid sick days laws, have not seen any negative effects on the local economy. We urge the Observer to learn more about paid sick days.
The Observer is right to want the facts. And the facts support paid sick days.